SUVA, Fiji-At a regional aviation security meeting last week, directors of civil aviation in the Pacific reaffirmed their commitment to mitigate the ongoing threats posed to civil aviation, given the severe social and economic impacts that would result if such threats were realized.
The reaffirmation was made at the Regional Meeting of Directors of Civil Aviation organized by SPC in collaboration with the Office of Transport Security of the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Transport at SPC's Regional Office in Suva, Fiji on June 20-21, 2012.
Terrorism, the major threat to aviation security, is transnational in nature and therefore a high degree of inter-agency collaboration is required to mitigate it.
The more than 45 delegates who participated in this year's meeting comprised representatives from the Pacific Island governments (civil aviation), the private sector, and regional and international organizations, including the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Now in its third year, this forum has evolved to become the key regional meeting of aviation security regulators in the Pacific.
One of SPC's key roles under the regional Framework for Action on Transport Services is to support efforts to develop safe, secure, reliable and affordable aviation transport services across the Pacific Island countries and territories.
“While we are often preoccupied with safety concerns here in the islands, it is important we don't lose sight of other important issues such as aviation security,” said John Hogan, director of SPC's Economic Development Division, in his opening speech.
“Coming together on annual basis helps us do this.
“The reality, after all, is that aviation is critical to the economic and social development of PICTs. This takes on an added element of importance when we consider the huge numbers of tourists visiting our collective shores each year," Hogan said.
The meeting noted the progress made by SPC's Transport Program in the collection and dissemination of information to PICTs through regular publications as well as the initiation of a data collection and retention program.
In January 2012, SPC launched the Aviation Information Bulletin, which provides monthly updates on aviation news relevant to PICTs. In less than six months, the number of subscribers increased to 250.
In July this year, SPC and the Association of South Pacific Airlines will launch a joint regional aviation magazine-Pacific Skies-which will aim to communicate about aviation related issues affecting the region to industry, governments, international organizations, and various donor agencies.
The high rate of turnover of staff in the aviation sector presents significant challenges to PICTs and requires ongoing capacity building support from development partners in the region.
The sector is taking the “many partners, one team” approach espoused in the regional transport framework very seriously, and this was recognized by the meeting. Improved coordination was evident between donors and partners such as the Australian and New Zealand governments, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, regional organizations such as the Pacific Aviation Safety Office and SPC, and international organizations such as ICAO, in coordinating their capacity building activities across the region.
The meeting also noted the work of other key agencies in the sector such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Airports Council International.
Delegates present at the meeting expressed their commitment to work together to promote the exchange of information and ideas and develop, where possible, regional approaches to the achievement of aviation security outcomes.
PICTs are also expected to benefit from improved information dissemination with regard to changes to international requirements and civil aviation rule amendments. (Secretariat of the Pacific Community)